July 2010

In need of a slump buster…

I thought tonight that the Boise Whistle Pigs t-shirts that were handed out at the ball park were going to be the tonic for the losing streak for the Hawks to end…not the case, as despite a stellar pitching performance by Brent Ebinger, Boise dropped a tough 3-2 decision to the Vancouver Canadians before the fifth 3,000-or-more fan crowd in the last six days.

Ebinger allowed just two singles in five innings, striking out seven – showing a great change up and spotting his fastball all over the strike zone.

Unfortunately, the C’s made three runs stand up for the second straight night, with only one of the runs earned.  An error by Ryan Cuneo, who was played third for the first time, prolonged the sixth inning and three two-out hits ensued, erasing a 1-0 Hawks lead.  Trailing 3-1 in the ninth, the Hawks had runners at first and third with no outs, but a double play ball thwarted the threat.

STREAK NOTES: The eight-game losing streak equals the longest single-season losing streak in the Cubs era (complete records from the Angels affiliate years are not available), with the longest losing streak at ten games (final two games of the 2006 season and first eight games of the 2007 season).  The Hawks have held a lead in each of the last six games, but have been unable to hold it.

GOTTA LOVE THE SECOND HALF: Despite the woes, the Hawks are just 0-3 in the second half and sit just two games out of first place…remember, Spokane opened the first half with a 1-7 record, yet still took home the pennant.

Let the Second Half Begin

PJDaddy.jpgGotta first give out a couple thank you’s from the road trip…a thank you to Linda Sue at the Best Western in Yakima for being such a nice person throughout our two stays there – and for being a huge Boise Hawks fan (where she got to watch PJ and his Dad call games)…a thank you to the coffee that they brew at the Roady’s Truck Stop in Baker City, Ore. – I was wide awake by the time we hit Ontario at 4 a.m. in the morning on Tuesday (in fact, I stayed up for 45 minutes when we got home, since I was wired)…and thank you to the Northwest League for the split season, I love the pennant chase in July and hope for another in September.

Thumbnail image for szczur.jpgRoster moves a plenty throughout the Cubs farm system, with the Hawks seeing nine bodies shifted around prior to tonight’s game – as George Matheus and Matt Szczur head to Peoria; Wes Darvill, Alvaro Sosa, and Marcos Perez head to Mesa; with Jordan Latham returning to Boise from Peoria (pitched for the Hawks in 2007), and Ryan Cuneo, Dustin Harrington, and Eric Rice joining the team from Mesa.

It will be a short stint for Szczur, as after the Chiefs quick road swing to Beloit over the weekend, he will head to Philadelphia to open fall camp at Villanova, as the Wildcats look to defend their FCS National Championship.

It is a homecoming for Latham, who starred at both Centennial High and at the College of Southern Idaho before being drafted by the Cubs in 2006 and was a Draft-and-Follow signee for Chicago, having pitched in Boise in 2007.

EXPECT LONG GAMES: If you are coming to Memorial Stadium this weekend, be prepared for long games when the Hawks and Vancouver hook up.  The Canadians are known for playing methodical baseball (for instance, starter Nathan Long made six pick-off moves to second base in the fourth inning alone), averaging over three hours a game during the 2006-08 seasons, averaging 2:54 a game last year.  This season, the Hawks actually lead the loop in average game time at 2:49.

CROWDS STILL COMING:  Despite the wildfires burning near Eagle, fans still came out in droves, as over 3,400 fans watched Wednesday’s opener – the fourth-straight crowd of 3,000 or more.

LOSING STREAK: The Hawks have lost six in a row, the second straight season that they have recorded the dubious mark (August 24-29 on the Western Idaho Fair trip).  It equals their longest losing streak since opening the 2007 season up 0-8.

Potpourri on Getaway Day (Including Player Interviews)

stadium.jpgNothing is going right for the Boise Hawks this time around in Yakima – the offense which was so prolific for the past two weeks is all but non-existent…the bullpen has been downright awful the last four nights…and the heat, well 100 degrees in Yakima is not like 100 degrees in Boise…it is downright HOT.

Put all that together, and tonight’s game between the Hawks and Bears is a true “playing out the string” game, as the Spokane Indians clinched the East Division title for the first half with their 7-0 victory in Game 2 of their doubleheader with Tri-City last night.

How different has the last four nights been – vastly…from July 8-21, the Hawks as a team hit .331, while the squad posted a quality ERA of 4.32…but in the last four losses, the team has limped to a .185 batting average, with pitchers struggling to a 7.85 ERA (while Tri-City and Yakima’s bullpen’s have combined for a 0.60 ERA).

yakima.jpgGETAWAY DAY BLUES – Chalk up another $35 out of Mike Safford’s wallet, as for the fourth time in five road trips this year, the team hotel has failed to provide a getaway room for the broadcaster (which is doubly tough, considering there is no wireless internet at the hotel)…I posted the cash to get the room until 4 p.m. (or else I’d have to pay a full night’s lodging rate), using the time to get Hawkstown Tonight prepared, along with updating you all on what is going on in HawksTown.

Serrano, Juan Yasser.jpgSERRANO EARNS AWARD – A great outing yesterday by Juan Serrano, allowing just two hits and one run – coupled with his five shutout innings against Spokane earlier in the week, earned him Northwest League Pitcher of the Week honors.  He is the second Hawk to earn an award – as Richard Jones was named Hitter of the Week last week.

LOOKING AHEAD – After tomorrow’s off day, the Hawks return home for a five-game series against the Vancouver Canadians (affiliate of the Oakland A’s) – in a battle of blue vs. white shoes.  The Hawks rotation will be Alvaro Sosa (Wed.), Dustin Fitzgerald (Thurs.), Brent Ebinger (Fri.), Juan Serrano (Sat.), Austin Kirk (Sun.).

INTERVIEWS WITH THE PLAYERS:  Here are the latest player interviews from HawksTown Tonight. Aaron Kurcz – (
KurczINT.wma), Richard Jones – (
JonesINT.wma), Chris Huseby (
HusebyINT.wma), Austin Kirk (
KirkINT.wma).

Nitty Gritty Time…

Jones2010.jpgBoy has pennant fever hit the Treasure Valley – something I have never seen in my years with the Boise Hawks.  Throughout the six-game homestand, the walk-up crowd at all of the games have been amazing – especially on both Tuesday and Thursday nights, days typically that do not produce large crowds.  3,486 fans on Wednesday, 3,009 fans on Thursday, 3,601 fans on Friday – a total over over 10,000 bodies to Memorial Stadium for the final three games of the Tri-City series.  THANK YOU BOISE for your part in trying to win the Hawks a First-Half title!!!

Unfortunately, the last two nights, the Hawks have been listless on the diamond – with the piggy-back starts struggling to get through five innings combined (instead of the seven or eight innings that the coaching staff expects).  That, combined with Tri-City pounding out 20 runs on 27 hits in the final two games – and it equals a half-game deficit to Spokane with three games left (the Indians and Dust Devils each have four games remaining, thanks to a rain-out from June 20 that will be made up on Sunday).

Looking at the scenarios – the Hawks are in need of some help from Tri-City if they want to claim the pennant (and first choice of dates in the divisional round of the playoffs).  If Boise were to end up tied with Spokane at the end of the 38-game slate, the Hawks would claim the tiebreak with a better in-division record.

NOTES: Alvaro Ramirez had his 20-game hit streak snapped tonight, but more impressively, had his 28-game on base streak snapped as well (dating back to June 20 in Yakima)…it was just the second time this season that he failed to reach base.  All position players got into the game on Friday except for Jeff Vigurs, who was kept out just in case an injury occurred in the field…Matt Szczur (15) and Richard Jones (11) kept their hit streaks intact.

HawksTown Tonight Book Reviews

summer49.jpgIf you didn’t get a chance to listed to HawksTown Tonight, our normal segment with Dr. Jasper LiCalzi on Business-Baseball-and Politics focused on summer reading, with Dr. LiCalzi mentioning three good reads for the summer.

His books were:

BASEBALL:   David Halberstam The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship

 

BUSINESS:    Joyce Appleby, The Relentless Revolution:  A History of Capitalism

 

POLITICS:     Jonathan Alter, The Promise: President Obama, Year One

 

I am also reading a pair of books this summer – starting with David Halberstam’s Summer of ’49, focusing on the American League pennant chase between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox – with a lot of great talk about legends Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio.  I am also going to read The Bullpen Gospels by former San Diego Padres and Toronto Blue Jays reliever, Dirk Hayhurst, about life in the minor leagues.

 

If you get a chance to read these books – feel free to let us know how they are.

 

Also – we have received some response on our BBP talk on HawksTown Tonight, as some fans do not appreciate us thinking “Outside of the Box” (or talking sometimes about the liberal side of politics).  We take all comments to heart and appreciate you listening to the show.  It is something different that we try to bring to the table – whether it is the talk on President Obama, bus ride movie reviews, how to make your grass green in the summer, or Treasure Valley Men’s Fastpitch League reports.  It is something fresh every night and hope the fans like the good and the not-so-good of it.

 

What a way to move into 1st Place

safford390.jpgTonight was a special night for many reasons at Memorial Stadium, as first-place was achieved at the “Big House on Glenwood”.

“Memorial Stadium Magic” returned in a big way, as the Hawks, who last night lost a 12-11 heartbreaker to the Spokane Indians, rallied from a 10-4 deficit to score seven runs in the final three innings, including three bases loaded walks in the ninth, to topple the Tribe, 11-10 – moving into first-place in the East Division race with just seven games left.

Also heading into first-place was your’s truly, who called his 390th game for the Hawks – the most by a broadcaster in franchise history.  I surpassed Rob Simpson, who called 389 games in his five years with the Hawks (having moved past both Dave Hahn and Sean McCall last year).

01-05Hawks.gifIt was a memorable game on a memorable night – and would have to rank among my Top-10 games (if I had a Top-10 list)…right up there with the six-run ninth inning outburst in Eugene a few years back, the 2004 NWL Championship series, and the five-game sweep at Everett in 2004.

Thank you to all of the fans for all of the kind words…as I look forward to Friday, which will be my 400th NWL broadcast (including six games I called for Spokane in 2007).

Leaving Volcano-Land

VolcanoesStadium1.JPGTonight the Hawks will be saying good bye to Marion County and Volcano-Land – otherwise known as Volcanoes Stadium for the 2010 season (unless we both reach the NWL Championship Series).

For me, I will not be saddened (except for leaving both Matt Pedersen, the new voice of the Volcanoes, and Mark Gilman, their former voice, both good guys).

A ball park that has the worst vantage point in the league from the press box (especially on Friday night when a booth was set up right in front of my position) begins the problems (which have ended in the past with too many losses to the Volcanoes).

Having to climb over railings to hang a crowd mike (which still gets kids talking directly in it), watching people spend $4.75 for an 9 ounce beer (or as I saw on $1.00 beer night, a cup that resembled the plastic glasses at a Holiday Inn).  Hot dogs that are made of chicken instead of beef, and the topper – a sign that says no straws or lids for sodas, but you can have a slice of pie for $6.00 ($3.00 more for ice cream).

VolcanoLand2.JPGIf I were to have friends in town – they better be from out of town, because locals are not allowed to receive complimentary tickets (I did have friends come on Friday night – I put Boise down, but they were asked to show ID, and they said they haven’t gotten new Idaho licenses)…but still got general admission berm seating.  It is the same seats the Hawks staff received when they came to Oregon for the 2006 LCS.

On field promotions are limited (although I have always loved their Kid Around the Bases – where a youth runs the bases after the ceremonial first pitch) – basically a water balloon hitting contest and a dress up in a uniform contest.  No running of the bases after the game – since the field lights are immediately turned off after the final out – maybe that is why there are pitching mound sized dead spots in the outfield (see picture).

VolcanoLand2.JPGFinally, I have to say that the fans in Salem-Keizer are the most complacent in the league.  Yakima may have the lowest attendance, but they are loud…Vancouver’s rowdies get into it, as the do in most other cities.  Not here, no cat-calling from the stands – which has surprised the Hawks players.

Fellas – lets get a win tonight, take a series from the ‘Canos, and head back to Idaho!

 

Alumni Report #5 (July 17, 2010)

The latest Boise Hawks alumni report noted a couple of things – as 18 former players are currently in the major leagues, with 47 players at the upper two levels of the minor leagues (AA/AAA).

Former Hawk Ryan Keedy recently retired from baseball after spending the last two years in the Marlins organiztion, while 2007 Hawk, Ryan Acosta, has resurfaced in the Yankees farm system.

Recent promotions included Greg Rohan to Daytona, with David Cales and Hung Wen Chen to Iowa.

To view the entire Alumni Report, click the following link –
AlumniReport7-17-10.pdf

Early July Interviews

Rahr.jpgAs promised, here is the complete audio from our three-part chat with Boise Hawks President/GM Todd Rahr about the stadium issue in Boise.

Also, here are a pair of pregame interviews with Pierre LePage (
LePageINT.wma) and Danny Keefe (
KeefeINT.wma).

A Monster Mash

VolcanoesStadium.jpgIt took the Boise Hawks a while to get their offense going, but once it did, six-consecutive two-out hits in a season-high seven-run eighth inning outburst to take a 10-7 victory over rival Salem-Keizer on Thursday night.

The big blast in the frame was a monster three-run home run over the video boarfrom Richard Jones, a blast that skipper Jody Davis told me after the game went probably 480 feet – with the ball found against the fence separating the ball park from Interstate 5.

Jones had his second three-hit game, while Matt Szczur logged his first three-hit game as a professional, extending his hit streak to seven games.  Alvaro Ramirez had two hits, pushing his hit streak to a NWL best 14 games – the longest active streak in the short season leagues and the second-longest streak in the short season leagues this season.

capitol.jpgNOTES: Cam Greathouse made his Hawks debut in the shadows of Oregon’s state capitol (pictured right during one of my runs through the city) – but seemed to rely on his curve ball a bit too much, in fact, he threw 24 curve balls of the 39 pitches in his two-plus innings of work…the sacrifice fly by Ramirez that scored Arismendy Alcantara in the ninth inning marked the first time that Boise has scored a run in the ninth this season.

The Hawks won two games at Volcanoes Stadium for the first time since the 2006 season and are gunning for their first series win against S-K on their diamond since the 2003 season – when Sean Marshall and three relievers combined on a five hitter in the rubber game of the series, defeating the Volcanoes (and future big leaguers Travis Ishikawa, Nate Schierholtz, and Pat Misch) 3-0.

High Heels {and} Highlights

from a woman in BASEBALL . . .

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